Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/225

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203
Unseemly and Naughty Bashfulness


entreaty, that in the end Cato, seeing how urgent and unreasonable he was, and not able to endure him any longer, was forced to say thus unto him: You would think it a foul disgrace and shame for you, Catulus, censor as you are, since you will not receive an answer and be gone, if my serjeants and officers here should take you by the head and shoulders and send you away: with that, Catulus being abashed and ashamed, departed in great anger and discontentment.

But consider rather and see whether the answer of Agesilaus and that which Themistocles made, were not more modest and savoured of greater humanity: for Agesilaus, when his own father willed him to give sentence in a certain cause that was brought before him, against all right and directly contrary to the laws: Father (quoth he), yourself have taught me from my very childhood to obey the laws; I will be therefore obedient still to your good precepts, and pass no judgment against law. As for Themistocles, when as Simonides seemed to request of him somewhat which was unjust and unlawful: Neither were you, Simonides (quoth he), a good poet, if you should not keep time and number in your song, nor I a good magistrate if I should judge against the law. And yet (as Plato was wont to say) it is not for want of due proportion between the neck and body of the lute, that one city is at variance with another city, and friends fall out and be at difference, doing what mischief they can one to another, and suffering the like again; but for this rather, that they offend and fail in that which concerneth law and justice. Howbeit, you shall have some, who themselves observing the precise rules most exactly according to art in music, in grammatical orthography, and in the poetical quantity of syllables and measures of feet, can be in hand with others, and request them to neglect and forget that which they ought to do in the administration of government, in passing of judgments, and in their other actions.

And therefore, with such as these be, I would have you take this course which I will now tell you: Is there an advocate or rhetorician that doth importune you sitting as judge upon the bench? or is there an orator that troubleth you with an unreasonable suit as you sit in council? grant them both that which they request, upon condition that the one in the entry of his plea will commit a solecism or incongruity, and the other in the beginning of his narration come out with some barbarism: but it is all to nothing that they will never do so, it would be thought such a shame; and in very truth, we see that some of